by Roz in Ontario, Canada
Princeton is a 6-year-old Black Russian Terrier who was diagnosed with severe DCM on August 28, 2018. His appetite had decreased, and we went to the vet and started investigating this as he seemed fine otherwise. Roughly two weeks later, we saw a cardiologist and received the shocking diagnosis and very grim prognosis. He had fluid around his heart and lungs, and fluid in his abdomen, along with a severe arrhythmia (atrial fibrillation) and very high heart rate. We were told he was at risk for sudden death.
He was started on five heart medications and taurine supplements. Within six weeks, he was in stage 4 kidney failure from the diuretics and we thought we would have to euthanize him. He was down 25 lbs. and had completely stopped eating. With some adjustments to his meds, things slowly started turning around. Once his kidney levels recovered, he started eating, gaining weight, and became like his wonderful old self. After a month, we reintroduced the Lasix but at 1/6 of the previous dose and 1/2 the dose of the Fortekor. His dosage of Diltiazem, Vetmedin, and taurine remained unchanged. We have not added back the Spironolactone.
Princeton’s echocardiogram on January 21, 2019, showed a modest improvement in the contractility of his heart (from 10% up to 15%), his heart rate is now normal, and there is no fluid accumulation anywhere! His DCM is now considered Moderate to Severe, which is an improvement as well. His atrial fibrillation is still evident. So, while this was not the drastic improvement we were hoping for, it is still good news and the cardiologist is hoping things will continue in this direction. We are especially encouraged that even on this very low dose of Lasix that he has not had any fluid build-up. Princeton is also up 17 lbs. His kidneys are tolerating this medication protocol well.
We adopted Princeton when he was almost 3 years old, so we have no knowledge of what he had been eating the first years of his life. With us, he was on Zignature Kangaroo – we thought we were doing the best for him. As we had great difficulty getting him to eat for some time, he was then getting Stella & Chewy’s Duck Duck Goose, which literally kept him alive. He is now eating Purina Pro Plan Sport with some chicken as a topper, and 1/2 of a Stella & Chewy’s patty crumbled on top.
I cannot begin to express my thanks to the moderators and members of this group for the support and knowledge they have shared. Princeton’s next cardiology appointment and echocardiogram will be on May 21, 2019. We remain hopeful for further improvement and reversal of the damage to his heart.